This week I received the dreaded phone call from daycare. Please come and pick up your son, he’s just vomited. In my 3 years and 9 months as a parent this is the first time I’ve ever received this call. For that I’m grateful.
It was terrible timing though. I was already super tired from a clingy lady baby with the flu. I felt like I was in a fog that not even 2 double shot coffees before lunch could drag me out of. My eyes were dry and felt like they were falling out of my head. Sometimes parenting and motherhood leaves you with some unpleasant side effects. I desperately needed sleep and had been daydreaming about a nap or an early night.
One of my least favourite sayings about parenthood is “enjoy every moment”. Obviously enjoyment, health and happiness is the goal. But some moments are just awful and you just have to get through them. This week reminded me of that.
I found myself standing in the daycare carpark, panicking because my son had just thrown up all over himself in the car. Right before I buckled him in. I had just finished explaining to Mr 3 what the bucket next to his seat was for. I was out of my depth, not having experienced this before.
It was a phone a friend moment. Hubby didn’t answer his phone. He was in a meeting. Thankfully my practical thinking sister, an experienced mum with school aged children, answered my call. I followed her advice and we made it home before the next wave of vomit. (I’m so thankful daycare is only a few minutes from home!)
The truth is I’m hopeless with vomit. Even my own. So I had to really psych myself up and tell myself it was just food. And not breathe in too deeply or the smell would make me vomit.
I left the car in the driveway, doors and windows open. That was future Kim’s problem. Actually it became hubby’s problem when he arrived home from work, bless him.
For the next couple of hours I tried to care for both a vomiting child and a hungry needy baby at the same time. The baby cried more than I’d like to admit. In those hours I felt like even my best was not good enough. I was completely overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood. I sent hubby an urgent message to come home as quickly as he could.
I had read an article earlier in the week about how the early years of raising children can feel like you’re in the trenches. I completely understood that phrase in those moments.
I was secretly freaking out about all of us catching a tummy bug. I hoped that being super vigilant about hygiene and washing everything in sight would be good enough. Our washing machine got quite a workout. I can’t remember the last time my hands were so dry from constantly washing them. (Probably the last time there was a stomach bug in the house.)
Of course I didn’t get the good night of sleep I so desperately needed. I could barely sleep as I listened out for the sounds of vomiting and coughing. My lady baby even cough-vomited on me during a night feed.
The next day hubby said he was impressed with how I handled the situation. But really, what choice did I have? I had to show up for my kids. I couldn’t help but think of the single mums who couldn’t beg their husband to come home and help. I hoped they had someone to call on for help.
A few years ago I read an article which said that working mothers secretly wish their kids were sick so they could spend more time with them, rather than go to work. For the record I have to say I completely disagree. If I had the choice between going to work or spending a day with sick kids, I’d ALWAYS choose work. I’d always choose health and happiness over sickness.
Sometimes parenting is hard, your resilience will be tested and your career will have to take a back seat. In these moments remember to be gentle with yourself. Lower your expectations of what you can achieve on those days. Your best is good enough. Some days or weeks your best is the bare minimum.
I’m a huge advocate of self care, especially for working mums. This week has taught me that what you SAY to yourself is even more important than what you DO for yourself.
What you SAY to yourself in challenging situations is a critical part of the self-care equation.
Say to yourself what you would say to a good friend – and believe it.
You got this mama!